Why I Never Participate in NaNoWriMo

Hey everyone! I’m back with this week’s post! This one is on “NaNoWriMo”, which stands for National November Writing Month. Most writers have heard of this, but in case you haven’t, here’s the basic lowdown for it.

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National November Writing Month is basically an event for writers where you pledge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. There are groups you can participate in, and other things to do too. Sounds fun, right? But there are some serious cons to this, which is why I never participated in it.

First, though, I will say a disclaimer. The only pro I can see in it, is if they’re a first time writer and a busy person, and have a hard time disciplining themselves to do something unless they are a part of some sort of contest or group that helps them to do it. Being encouraged to write 50,000 words and actually do it is an admirable thing, and maybe it will help someone actually start a writing routine.

But honestly, that’s the only positive I have ever seen come of it. There are way more negatives — even some pro Nanowrimo people have stated some of these.

First, there’s the spiritual standpoint. I’m a Christian, and therefore, I want everything I do to line up with God’s Word and please Him. But a major issue I have with it, is the “boasting” people do at the end of it. Some people who do Nanowrimo, do it partly to write, but also for the “boasting rights” they get at the end. Most people don’t mean to be mean, but inadvertently, they are.

In high-school, I was a part of a writing forum with other high-schoolers. Many of them participated in Nanowrimo, and at the end, when they celebrated themselves, it made other kids who didn’t do it (or didn’t reach their goal) feel left out and even depressed. Honestly, it was like a clique, and if you didn’t do it or didn’t finish it, you were the “outsider”. They didn’t mean it, but they weren’t looking to see how their actions might affect others.

Spiritually, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 10:17, “As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” Psalms 34:2 says, “I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart.” There are numerous other Scriptures throughout the Word which tell us we are only to boast in the Lord, not in anything else.

Then there’s even verses about bragging on yourself. Proverbs 27:2 is a major one, and I quote, “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips.” And Jeremiah 9:23-24 states, “This is what the Lord says: “Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the Lord who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the Lord, have spoken!”

James 4:13-16 talks more about boasting and bragging, and at the end of it, in verse 17, James gives a warning. “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

Another reason I have never and will never participate in NaNoWriMo is because of the organization’s values. A little while ago, I searched up blogs about NaNoWriMo, and I was surprised to see multiple people saying they were going to quit NaNoWriMo for political reasons. You can search up these blogs on WordPress to get more in-depth info on what happened, but, the short of it is, after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, the NaNoWriMo community started soliciting donations to fund abortion. Guys. NaNoWriMo is supposed to be about writing, right? Why are they trying to involve politics in it? Not only that, they support abortion, the murder of an unborn child, and as a Christian, I cannot be affiliated with such a program. I applaud those people who deleted their accounts over that.

Finally, there’s the logical and statistical side of things. Jerry B. Jenkins has a really good post about the pros and cons of NaNoWriMo here if you wish to read more in depth about it. But in it, he talks about the statistics of a NaNoWriMo manuscript being traditionally published (being paid for your work). According to him, the odds of a regular unsolicited manuscript being traditionally published is about 1 in 1,000. However, the odds of a NaNoWriMo manuscript being traditionally published are MUCH worse. According to him, as of 2020, 250 NaNoWriMo manuscripts had been traditionally published… over a course of 18 years. In 2019, there were over 400,000 people who completed a novel in NaNoWriMo. If all 250 of those traditionally published books came from those 400,000 manuscripts, the odds would be 1 in more than 1,725. And if you average 400,000 finished manuscripts over 18 years, how much worse are the odds?

Logically though, it makes sense. When you’re forcing yourself to write 50,000 words in one month, you’re thinking of “quantity” over “quality”. I’d much rather take longer than one month to write 50,000 words and write a good “quality” manuscript, than rush and write a crappy one which I’ll just have to rewrite all over again if I ever want to do anything with it.

Finally, if you want to become an author and write multiple books, you logically can’t rely on one month a year to motivate yourself to write. Yes, writing a book takes discipline and perseverance. And if you want to be a multiple-book author, you’re going to have to discipline yourself sometime. So why not start now? Formulate a writing routine which fits your schedule and ask a friend or family member to keep you accountable. If you have a fellow friend who is a writer, join up with them to encourage each other, brainstorm, and write. It’s really helpful.

In summary, these are the pros and cons of participating in NaNoWriMo, and the reasons why I have never done so.

Thanks for reading! What is your take on NaNoWriMo? Are you going to do NaNoWriMo this month? Did this post make you think? Let me know in the comments below! God bless, and happy writing! ~ Kay Leigh

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